Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Lake Michigan


We spent the weekend paddling on Lake Michigan. The path from our house to the beach is down a fairly significant hill, which makes it near impossible to put our kayaks in the water within walking distance, which we were able to do on Lake Ontario during our time at Fort Drum – womp womp. However we have two inflatable stand-up paddle boards that have proved to be perfect for our current situation (SereneLife and ROC). We carry them in backpacks up and down the hill and inflate them on the shore. When the water is calm, we use them as stand-up paddle boards and when the water is choppier, we treat them like kayaks. Our long-term goal is to get each kid their own paddle board but for the time being, Clay and I can each comfortably have a kid on the board with us so we’ve been able to cover some ground in the waters along the North Shore of Chicago as a family.

stand up paddle boarding lake Michigan Fort Sheridan

The water was incredibly calm yesterday morning. The sparkling turquoise water was the perfect antidote to the uncertainty and anxiety that has been churning inside for quite some time. Despite reciting my mantra of everything will be okay continuously the past few weeks, my mind would find itself being lured into the dark spaces where doubt, apprehension, and hopelessness have been banished. And as much as I don’t want to retreat into my own little world when so many horrible things are happening in our country, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find the bandwidth to take it all on after tending to my own family’s needs during this dumpster fire of a year.

stand up paddle boarding lake Michigan Fort Sheridan

Deciding what to do about the kids’ education dominated the majority of my headspace this month. I reconciled the idea that homeschooling may be the best option for our family but we ultimately decided to enroll the kids in the public school system, which has a stellar reputation and the opportunity for students to attend school in-person for a couple of hours each day. Only time will tell if the hybrid-model is sustainable through the fall and winter but we felt it was worth it to give it a chance. And if we find that it isn’t working for our family, we will likely make the switch to homeschooling and persevere with grit and determination. I think once I gave myself grace and the power to change my mind, I became much more at peace with our decision. It’s easy to twist my insides into knots when it comes to our children but time and time again they’ve proved themselves to be resilient – they will be okay. Everything will be okay.

stand up paddle boarding lake Michigan Fort Sheridan

2020 has proved to be anything but ordinary, so I think it’s important to fight my initial instinct to make everything feel ‘normal’ for my children. Because that’s not how life works. We adjust. We adapt. And we push forward. We’re thankful that we were able to sign them up for soccer and baseball this fall, even though the season will look very different than what they’ve experienced in the past. And that’s okay. I’ve vowed to stop asking myself, “How can I make this feel more like normal?” and instead I’ve been asking, “How can I make this better than before?

stand up paddle boarding lake Michigan Fort Sheridan

Leonardo DiVinci told us that water is the driving force of all nature. Not only can water carve its way through stone, but it makes a new path if it deems necessary. I am so incredibly thankful that this assignment will allow us to spend time on the water and embrace its power. There is a sense of freedom when we’re paddling in the water – we’re focused on the horizon and maintaining balance while appreciating the vast beauty. Every paddle is different than the one before – new water, new movement, and new insight.  Our family is craving the routine that a new school year brings – we look forward to the challenges on the horizon. And we will continue to carve our way through 2020 and should we find that the path we’re one is impassable, we will make a new one.

6 comments on “Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Lake Michigan”

  1. This sounds like an awesome adventure, Karen! I’m sure it softens the blow of a CONUS station (maybe just a little bit, right)? Tell me, do you like these inflatable SUPs? We’ve had our eye on a few models.


  2. We really like them! I’d rank the ROC slightly higher because the backpack is more comfrotable to carry but that really only matters if you have to carry them any sort of distance. The ROC is also a bit sturdier because it is wider but the SereneLife is faster!


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